Enterprise app development on Apple iPhone and iPad

Apple’s iPhone is still perceived as primarily marketed to individuals rather than corporates. However, I was interested to see how much Apple is doing to attract corporate developers. First, Apple now supports some basic enterprise-friendly features, such as Microsoft Exchange (with a few caveats), VPN, remote wipe, and the ability to lock down iTunes to some extent. Without these capabilities, the devices would not be acceptable in many environments, making it pointless to consider them for custom applications.

Unfortunately iTunes is still needed for activation, deploying software updates, and installing applications. It is silly that Apple requires business users to install a music library to use its phone, I guess reflecting the device’s history as a music player. It is also a somewhat intrusive application especially on Windows.

If you then want to develop internal applications, you sign up for the iPhone Developer Enterprise Program. At $299 per year this is more expensive than the more general equivalent, but no big deal. Then you have to get a digital certificate from Apple. Next, create one or more “provisioning profiles” that install onto the device and authorize it to run your applications. Applications you create must be signed with your digital certificate. Finally, you can add the signed applications to an iTunes library, and users can then drag them to their iPhone or iPad. It will only run on devices that have the matching provisioning profile installed. Organisations can also revoke applications by revoking the identity used to sign the provisioning profile.

As Adobe pointed out to me, since these apps do not go through Apple’s approval process, there is nothing to stop corporate developers using the Flash Packager for iPhone that is available in Creative Suite 5.

There is more detail on Apple’s iPhone in Business page.

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2 comments to Enterprise app development on Apple iPhone and iPad

  • Or just do what we do, and create an iPhone-targeted web app, without asking anyone’s permission or paying money to Apple. You’d be amazed what you can do in a mobile web app these days.

  • Rox

    Also, the provisioning profiles expire after several months (less than 6) and you need one profile/application.